When I was expecting Coco, my husband would candidly question me, “Will you still love me? More than the baby?”
I would jokingly reply, “Of course. You will still be the major shareholder of my heart with a 51% share of my love. She will only have a 49% share.”
That proved to be a workable arrangement for the next 19 months following Coco’s arrival. We loved our baby daughter deeply and spent a good part of our day (and night) with her. When we needed time away from baby duties, we left Coco in our parents’ experienced hands and slipped out for the occasional date night and even managed to jet off for a short trip or two.
When I was pregnant the second time round, with Claire, he teasingly asked again, “Will you still love me more than you love them?”
I laughed and replied, “Definitely. I will give you 34% of my love. They will each have less at 33% each.”
He put on a faux (which could have been real, for all I know) expression of shock and exclaimed, “What? You mean I don’t retain my 51% share and they split the remaining 49% between them?”
In reality, the poor man doesn’t even get my promised 34%, much less his ideal of remaining the main shareholder of this pie that is his wife.
In reality, he gets a very, very tiny sliver of this pie, finishing pretty much in last place after the girls, my job, house errands and myself. He’s like a scavenger for my love, picking on the scraps left behind after the girls and other responsibilities drain the last bits of time and energy from me.
That’s not to say that I love him any less than I did before we had babies. On the contrary, I love him even more so as my partner in life and as the father to our children. But I am ashamed to say that this so-called ardent love, seeing how I always end up choosing the girls over him, is not immediately obvious to anyone.
He has been magnanimous in sharing his wife with everyone who wants a piece of her. Including his wife herself, unselfishly letting her go off for the occasional ‘me’ time and have a long shower, a facial, a pedicure or to simply sleep while he tends to the babies or if they’re not at home, entertains himself with a computer game or a novel. Of course, he is not in want of the company of friends, but as any man would readily vouch, none of them can fully stand in for his wife.
I am but a pie.
That gets cut into smaller and smaller pieces with each child and their new demands; with each stage of advancement in my career; with each step back in terms of physical health and well-being as my body gets older; with each nagging reminder that time left with my parents is slowly ticking away.
While it is true that love multiplies with each new addition to the family, the same can’t be said for time and attention. We hope to have a third child and if we are so blessed as to be granted our hearts’ desire, the little pieces of me that I have for each loved one will only get tinier and tinier. And when it comes to my husband, his share of the pie will diminish more quickly and more drastically then the share of each child.
To think of myself, instead, as a piece of dough. While a pie gets cut and nibbled upon until it’s eventually all gone, dough can be divided up one way, moulded back together and divided up another way, over and over again.
Just like dough, I can be pliable and flexible with my time and energy, distributing and redistributing my Self according to who wants a part of me – and when and how much they want of me.
But always remaining whole, no matter what.
So dough, I shall be.